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PhD student: Nerys Musgrove

I came to USW in 2015 to study for a Criminology and Criminal Justice degree. I absolutely loved the course and developed a passion for fairness in our criminal justice system. 

In my second year I opted to take the professional practice module as I felt it would be beneficial to experience working in an area of criminal justice. I spent three months working in the Youth Offender’s Institution at Parc Prison, and had the opportunity to find out more about the boys that were being held there. 

The thing that struck me most when speaking to the boys was that their lives had been impacted years before entering the criminal justice system. Several of them had spent time in children’s homes, been moved around several foster homes, been excluded from school, or had a parent who was addicted to alcohol/drugs. It struck me that these boys were in desperate need of help long before being sent to prison. 

In my third year I was given the opportunity to be part of a small group of students who worked on the Innocence Project with Dr Cheryl Allsop. This was a fantastic opportunity where we were able to look at cases where someone had been convicted of committing a criminal offence, but they claimed they were innocent. Being part of this project showed me how incredibly difficult it is to overturn a criminal conviction even if there is evidence to show that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

After completing my Criminology degree, I wanted to continue with my studies. I wanted to stay in Criminology and decided to study for a Masters in Crime and Justice. As I was staying on, I was also able to continue with the Innocence Project, which I was thoroughly enjoying. After completing my Masters, a fully funded PhD came up, looking at the rights and voice of the child in pre-court criminal proceedings. I applied and was successful.

The PhD is funded by the Youth Justice Board Cymru and the European Social Fund, via KESS II. I am supervised by Dr Harriet Pierpoint and Professor Kate Williams, and I am fortunate to have supervisors who have a wealth of experience in my topic area. 

I have spent the majority of the PhD to date working from home because of Covid-19 (as well as home schooling my children for most of the last year!). I have been able to conduct online interviews with professionals who work with children who have committed low level offences,  and am hoping that I will be able to conduct face to face research with children later this year. I also hope to be able to conduct observations of police officers and Youth Offending Team workers. I am really looking forward to the possibility of being able to conduct fieldwork away from my office at home!